Thyroid Cancer (cont.)

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a treatment for medullary and anaplastic thyroid cancer. It's sometimes used to relieve symptoms of other thyroid cancers.

Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells. Most drugs for thyroid cancer are given directly into a vein (intravenously) through a thin needle, but a new drug for medullary thyroid cancer can be taken by mouth.

You may receive chemotherapy in a clinic, at the doctor's office, or at home. Some people need to stay in the hospital during treatment.

The side effects depend mainly on which drugs are given and how much. For drugs given directly into a vein, the most common side effects include mouth sores, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, and hair loss. For the drug given by mouth, side effects include diarrhea, high blood pressure, coughing, and a rash.

Your health care team can suggest ways to control many of these problems. Most go away when treatment ends.

You may want to read the NCI booklet Chemotherapy and You.

You may want to ask the doctor these questions before having chemotherapy:

  • What is the goal of treatment?
  • What are the risks and possible side effects of treatment? What can we do about them?
  • When will treatment start? When will it end?
  • How will treatment affect my normal activities?

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Thyroid Cancer - Symptoms Question: The symptoms of thyroid cancer can vary greatly from patient to patient. What were your symptoms at the onset of your disease?
Thyroid Cancer - Treatments Question: What was the treatment for your thyroid cancer?
Thyroid Cancer - Share Your Surgery Experience Question: Please share your experience with surgery for thyroid cancer.